Spotlight on Diamonds: Botswana

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Spotlight on Diamonds: Botswana

Here at Fox's, we are frequently asked about diamonds and how they are sourced. Clients are frequently concerned that diamonds from Africa, in particular, are obtained at a negative cost to the country and people who mine them.

Pile of octahedron diamonds on a black background.

Our graduate gemologist,Gina, recently attended a GIA lecture about diamonds and learned some fascinating facts about how diamonds are increasing the quality of life for the citizens of Botswana.

2 photos: Left is a photo of a woman holding a large rough diamond. Photo on the right is 2 octahedron diamonds on a black background.

In 1967, the year after Botswana gained independence from British rule, a huge diamond mine was found by DeBeers, the largest supplier of rough diamonds in the world. At this time, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the world, with an agricultural economy and a per capita income of $80.

Debeers diamond cutting laboratory in Botswana

DeBeers and the government of Botswana entered into a 50-50 agreement to mine the diamonds, and DeBeers opened a diamond cutting factory in Botswana. This partnership has been so successful that in 2008, DeBeers closed their diamond sorting facility in London and built the largest, most technologically advanced sorting facility in the world in Botswana.

DeBeers diamond sorting facility in Botswana.

Because of the foresight of the government of Botswana and the social responsibility of DeBeers, the GDP per capita has risen from $80 in 1966 to $16,400 in 2013, second only to South Africa. Infrastructure, schools, hospitals, banks, hotels, retail, and transportation have all grown around the diamond industry. Literacy and education have risen dramatically, and Botswana is now one of the world's fastest growing countries, with 10% annual growth for the last 30 years.  

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